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H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
Sun May 19, 2013, 06:58 PM May 2013

Law v Law

Last week, while on vacation -- retired folks need vacations, too -- I participated in a few discussions on this forum about the Attorney General’s office and AP. There were a few interesting posts & threads here that I wanted to respond to, but decided to wait until I had returned home. I want to make it clear that while I have firmly-held opinions, based upon what I see as very clear Amendment 1 issues, I recognize and fully appreciate that some folks who disagree with my opinion have intelligent, thoughtful points of view, as well. For few things in the very complicated universe of socio-political activities are so blatantly black-vs.-white that only one view can be entirely correct, to the exclusion of all others.(That Dick Cheney should be prosecuted and incarcerated is one of those very few.)

The point was made that what the Attorney General’s office did was “legal.” And that is a valid point, worthy of discussion. Less worthy was the “if you don’t like it, change the law” nonsense that was a weak attempt to end discussion on the topic.

There are different types of law. In discussions about hydrofracking, for example, we can recognize that there are Man’s Law and Natural Law. The Dick Cheneyites can deem it “legal” to frack, and even pass a law that overturns the Clean Air and Clean Water laws. Yet, because fracking poisons the water supply, Natural Law insures that living things will suffer and die as the direct and unavoidable consequence of fracking.

Or we might consider Martin Luther King, Jr.’s November 16, 1961 speech to the Fellowship of the Concerned. In this powerful speech, King explained why he and others were openly violating certain laws, and willingly paying the consequences. King noted that there were two types of Man’s Law: those that were just, and those that were unjust. A just law enhances all of society, while an unjust law seeks to exclude a specific segment from those rights that all Americans were supposed to enjoy.

Likewise, when we consider what may be deemed “legal,” our nation has a long and often acrimonious history of laws that either enhance the Constitution (specifically, the Bill of Rights), and those laws that have denied a specific segment of the population those same rights. In these instances, it is generally not an oppressed group that breaks from the policies of the Constitution; rather, it is some level of government: local, state, or federal.

Constitutional Law is, of course, that body of law that has been determined by the federal courts. Yet, even here, there has been a long and cruel history of even the US Supreme Court making a ruling -- which then stands as law -- that is clearly a product of the times, in which the interests of the few has outweighed the interests of all Americans. To list but two for examples, the Dred Scott v Sanford, and the George W. Bush v democracy stand out. In some instances, a later USSC decision can right a past wrong; in others, like Bush in 2000, the damage inflicted upon our society can never be repaired.

Those of us who are rightfully concerned about the AP issue recognize that it is part of a larger attack on Amendment 1. It is a constitutional issue -- I am convinced a crisis -- that is larger than the Democratic Party v the republican country club/tea bag party. In order to potentially change the law, we must focus the spotlight of the public’s attention on it, as a first step. None of us on this forum have the “standing” required, for instance, to file a legal case on it, hoping to get it to the USSC for a fair decision, rooted in the Constitution.

President Obama himself has said that he expects democrats to “hold his feet to the fire.” Our questioning what the Attorney General’s office did is not a betrayal. Our strongly opposing this dangerous “legal” action is not a call for lawlessness. Our hoping that President Obama -- who was employed as a constitutional law professor -- will take bold action to support Amendment 1 -- even when it is difficult, or perhaps unpopular -- is not in any sense an indication that we see no difference between the two major political parties.

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. Robert Kennedy, Dr. King, and Malcolm were, in my humble opinion, the best that America has offered in my lifetime. I admire each of them, because they were willing to stand up for what they believed to be right. They were willing to confront problems, even when it was most difficult. They did not ask others to do what they were unwilling to do. And they were willing to suffer the consequences of speaking out, and taking action, to confront injustice -- “legal” or otherwise.

In the end, what did they really want? A society where the Bill of Rights and the goodness of the American potential was available to each and every person.

Malcolm sometimes compared the republicans and democrats in Washington, DC, to wolves and foxes. The republican wolf will growl at you, and then bite you; the democratic fox will smile at you, then sneak up and bite you from behind. I think that same concept can be accurately applied here: republican wolves make no pretense that they believe everyone -- including you and I -- are “entitled” to Constitutional Rights. They will snarl in our faces, solong as their public and private “security” forces are there to protect them, and snatch those rights away from us. And too many democratic foxes give lip service to the Constitution, and grin at us while asking for a campaign contribution and a vote, but compromise your and my rights behind our backs.

Amendment 1 secures our right to gather together to address our grievances against the behavior of our elected representatives. I say that doing just that is a good thing. More, I believe that the failure to do so is betrayal. Again, I appreciate that good and sincere people can and do disagree with me on the AP issue. But I wanted to take the opportunity to explain why I am not only talking about my concerns here on this forum, but contacting those very elected (and also appointed) representatives to let them know what I think.

Thank you for listening.
H2O Man

28 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Law v Law (Original Post) H2O Man May 2013 OP
help! H2O Man May 2013 #1
Recommended. NYC_SKP May 2013 #2
Your OP has had a remarkable recovery! Luminous Animal May 2013 #22
Like so many issues, we ought not to support the First Amendment only when it serves us. NYC_SKP May 2013 #3
Right. H2O Man May 2013 #10
Kick n/t Yo_Mama May 2013 #4
HUGE K & R !!! - Thank You !!! WillyT May 2013 #5
I had a H2O Man May 2013 #7
Anytime H2O Man, Anytime... WillyT May 2013 #8
Again, thanks! H2O Man May 2013 #9
k&r Vincardog May 2013 #6
1st Amendment seems to allow for lying, though dickthegrouch May 2013 #11
True. H2O Man May 2013 #14
The biggest problem is one of responsibility, not of laws! mrdmk May 2013 #15
You are right 'the only real win is when the public has all the accurate facts with which to make sabrina 1 May 2013 #27
Yes, I will defend the Devil's rights hootinholler May 2013 #12
Most Excellent Post !!! WillyT May 2013 #18
excellent read G_j May 2013 #13
Very thoughtful and informative thread, premium May 2013 #16
Wonderful. Wonderful OP Me. May 2013 #17
While I agree H2O Man May 2013 #19
There You Go Me. May 2013 #20
My dear Mr Waterman, my heart has been sinking this past week Luminous Animal May 2013 #21
Well, thank you! H2O Man May 2013 #24
I was there for you during your hunger strike and I will be there for you Luminous Animal May 2013 #25
We'll get together H2O Man May 2013 #26
In View Of This Discussion Me. May 2013 #23
Excellent OP, thank you H20 Man! sabrina 1 May 2013 #28


(68,644 posts)
3. Like so many issues, we ought not to support the First Amendment only when it serves us.
Sun May 19, 2013, 08:23 PM
May 2013

This AP case seems to bring about such sentiments, but we have to either support the First Amendment protections under all circumstance or suffer further acts against it.

Similarly, I'm staunchly opposed to the death penalty but when I read about certain violent acts, especially against the young or helpless among us, or against animals, I start to have second thoughts.

I know that to maintain the power and integrity of a belief, or a law, or a policy, it must be held with consistency.

Thus, I am with you on this, H2O Man.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
10. Right.
Mon May 20, 2013, 09:19 AM
May 2013

There's plenty of examples of expression that, while protected by Amendment 1, are obnoxious, annoying, etc. And some that are downright troubling. But, exactly as you say, it is important to honor that right, even when it serves our interests.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
7. I had a
Sun May 19, 2013, 09:25 PM
May 2013

sneaking suspicion that you might appreciate this OP.

I appreciate your bringing attention to the Amendment 1 issues involved here. You are The Best, in my opinion.


(3,227 posts)
11. 1st Amendment seems to allow for lying, though
Mon May 20, 2013, 10:30 AM
May 2013

The one problem I have with the current interpretations of the 1st amendment is that they seem to allow for all the intellectual and actual dishonesty that is occurring in public discourse. FAR TOO MANY are making extreme exaggerations or cynical distortions of the whole truth and "winning".

It is not a win in my opinion if the truth is mangled, distorted, hidden, omitted.

The only real win is when the public has all the accurate facts with which to make a decision.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
14. True.
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:50 AM
May 2013

Amendment 1 does allow for outright, purposeful lying, with very few exceptions.

Those who tend to use the media to spread both misinformation and disinformation have an agenda. More, they tend to come from two groups: government and corporations. At times, there has been -- and should be -- a healthy tension between government and corporations. Sad to say that in this era, the two have an extremely close relationship; the dangers this poses to our constitutional democracy far outweight any external threat.

Two weeks ago, I drove north .....l from rural central New York, to an even more rural part of the state, to pick my daughter up from St. Lawrence University (those familiar with it can appreciate how rural it is). I was listening to CDs .... Plastic Ono Band, Hendrix, the Doors ..... which likely dates me ..... and in between, I put on the radio, hoping to hear the news. By chance, one station was playing Glen Beck, who was interviewing Ted Nugget. I listened as long as I could stand to, probably two minutes. Both were spouting nonsense. I questioned: did they know they were full of crap, or did they actually believe such things? Either way, it strikes me as obscene, but I would not seek to silence them.

Our democracy -- what remains of it -- provides both rights and responsibilities. For example, even before the internet, if one was serious, they could do the work required to find accurate information. It often required going to the public library, and ordering a hard-to-find book. Or subscribing to what was known as an underground newspaper. But that effort would be rewarded.

More, we have the responsibility to confront the outright lies of government and corporations. It would be impossible to confront each and every one, of course, but creativity allows us avenues to spread the truth. And that means exercising those muscles that are defined in that Bill of Rights.


(2,943 posts)
15. The biggest problem is one of responsibility, not of laws!
Mon May 20, 2013, 01:16 PM
May 2013

Unfortunately, too make some people responsible, you have to sue them senseless!!!

It is a matter of agenda and who has a dog in the fight. These are two different matters and should be treated as such.

A major problem is the responsibility of the media who are now major corporations. They have gone to a, 'he said, she said format' or a, 'left verses right' that is nothing more than empty entertainment. Not to mention, very cheap reality programming complete with snazzy slogans like, 'who will get kicked off of the island!'

To add, I think another problem developed when people started rating success with, 'who dies with the most toys, wins!' Another words, monetary success is the only important measure in life...

About the AP thing, there is a enough information now to do a college paper on this one event. Will our current media put forth a report that is worthy of a college paper on the subject. Well certainly not the evening news. Maybe PBS will do a story in a year on a shoe-string budget. Hey, in three months 60 minutes will a fifteen minute segment on the subject minus six minutes of commercials. Then there is the pervertible agenda thing.

Unfortunately, since the media has taken a stance that everything here is to make money, we are not here to educate the public, and our boss says so, they will be no quick fixes to this mess. AP will sue the government, and records will be sealed. So much for public information.

Of coursed, pumping out misinformation is a other issue, hope you have a good lawyer...

sabrina 1

(62,325 posts)
27. You are right 'the only real win is when the public has all the accurate facts with which to make
Tue May 21, 2013, 12:06 AM
May 2013

a decision'. And the only way for that to happen is to have a free and open press which does not need to fear being spied on and harassed by the Government.

We do not have a free press since deregulation of the media and our 'news' organizations were bought by Big Corporations.

However, when a story is published such as this one, rather than attack the story before knowing any of the facts based on partisanship, we should all demand an investigation into the facts.

However, what we will find probably is that while Govt. spying on the press is reprehensible in any democracy, THIS country, under Bush, allowed spying on ALL citizens, destroying rights granted under the 4th Amendment, and you could add the Fifth, and certainly any infringement on the press affects the rights granted under the 1st Amendment.

We railed against those 'laws' when Bush was pushing them, we warned the far Right who supported anything their party did, that they would not always be in power so maybe they should think more about the country than the party they belonged to.

When individuals make decisions based on their party affiliation we get what we had under Bush, illegal wars, torture, destruction of Constitutional protections and a breakdown of this democracy. We are NOT Republicans and should never ignore any threat to the rights that were so hard fought for regardless of party affiliation.

This OP is absolutely correct. While this may have been 'legal', thanks to Bush and his 'terror laws', it is wrong and those laws that may have made it 'legal' need to be rescinded. In fact we thought once we elected Democrats they would be.


(26,449 posts)
12. Yes, I will defend the Devil's rights
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:08 AM
May 2013

Because in doing that I defend my own rights. Besides, if defending his rights gets him off, then he wasn't much of a devil was he?

The real devils seem to have a way of accruing extra rights the rest of us don't seem to have. From the fracking corporations to the Cheney/Rumsfeld like tag teams of the world, somehow their exercise of rights seem to carry more weight than ours.

Your essay brings to mind a video I saw on youtube of a herd of Water Buffalo rescuing a juvenile from a pride of lions. There was one Buffalo bolder than the rest and when a small amount of progress was demonstrated the herd moved to help.

Unfortunately we as a herd seem to want to follow wolves and foxes before we follow our own who show a little boldness.

Stay bold, my friend.


(40,373 posts)
13. excellent read
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:15 AM
May 2013

thank you for taking the time to so thoughtfully contribute
to this very important conversation. K&R


(35,454 posts)
17. Wonderful. Wonderful OP
Mon May 20, 2013, 07:37 PM
May 2013

I find I don't know exactly how the intelligence in the printed article affected national security but i will confess when I first heard about ir I wondered if we had another Judith Miller situation going on here. I think the 1st amendment is crucial but I also the press needs to act responsibly which is something they seldom seem to do since Obama became president. That question from the Reuters reporter was rude and disrespectful. While the press needs protection , they need to earn it by behaving like journalists. I heard Woodward, on MJ the other day said that the IRS thing was equal to Watergate. He was once a good reported.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
19. While I agree
Mon May 20, 2013, 09:39 PM
May 2013

on most of what you wrote, I will respectfully disagree with the last sentence. Woodward was never a good reporter. He was employed in another capacity, and that allowed him to be placed with the official cover of "journalist." (Odd that it was Mark Felt -- a man who strongly disliked reporters -- who suggested to Bob the career change. At the time, Woodward worked for ONI, as had Felt -- who was then in the FBI -- and the two met regularly in the basement of the Nixon White House!)

Carl Berstein was definitely a talented journalist. Bob never has been a gifted writer. I'm not suggesting that people ignore his books, but to both take them with a grain of salt, and keep in mind he often has others doing the real work.


(35,454 posts)
20. There You Go
Mon May 20, 2013, 10:40 PM
May 2013

I knew he was probably 'connected' but still thought his journalist creds were for real, a two-fer. Now he's just a prima donna celebrity who has embarrassed himself several times in the last couple of months.

Judy Miller...where is she now?

Luminous Animal

(27,310 posts)
21. My dear Mr Waterman, my heart has been sinking this past week
Mon May 20, 2013, 10:47 PM
May 2013

when seeing the defenses of the Admin's actions over 1st Amendment press freedoms.

Your post has lifted my heart.

Thank you.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
24. Well, thank you!
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:42 PM
May 2013

It is an issue that is of great concern to me. Forgive me for rambling on -- but here goes:

I've been involved in the struggle to protect the Living Environment, including human beings, from being poisoned by hydrofracking. Of particular interest to me is something known as the "Constitution Pipeline." That name alone is so unethical, I could puke. But that's beside the point.

I've been to Brooklyn, PA, where this pipeline begins. It is now against the law (federal) to take a photograph of the initial transfer station. The official "reason" is that terriblists might want photos of it. Bullshit. Anyone can stand on the rural road, and look at it for hours at a time, without problem. The real reason is that the state is violating the law, federal regulations are not being enforced, and photographs could -- and would -- document this sad fact.

I am considering going, as a journalist, to photograph it. This would lead to arrest. This would result in my being incarcerated, as a witness to Amendment 1. Totally non-violently, of course. And, as a protest (and to save the government $), I will refuse to eat.

Last January, I did my first hunger strike. Though my family is firmly opposed to my doing a second one, as are my doctors, I think I need to. Amendment 1 is more important than me, as an individual. I have a few projects that I'm trying to wrap up now. And I am doing sweat lodge ceremonies, etc, to prepare myself mentally.

Luminous Animal

(27,310 posts)
25. I was there for you during your hunger strike and I will be there for you
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:45 PM
May 2013

if you take a picture of the initial transfer station.


(35,454 posts)
23. In View Of This Discussion
Mon May 20, 2013, 11:13 PM
May 2013

“WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration’s Justice Department has moved beyond investigating and prosecuting leaks at an unprecedented level to claiming in court documents that committing a standard act of journalism may itself be criminal.
In 2010, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described a reporter, recently identified as Fox News' chief Washington correspondent James Rosen, as possibly being an “aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leaking of classified information. Reyes made that argument in his request for a warrant for Rosen’s personal email account as part of a leak investigation.
The DOJ’s suggestion that Rosen may be guilty of criminal wrongdoing -- unlike the AP reporters and editors targeted over a May 2012 report about a CIA-thwarted terrorist plot -- is a key difference in the two simmering controversies. The DOJ’s broad use of subpoena power against the AP, revealed last week, has been widely condemned and seen by many as a threat to press freedom and a means to silence sources, including whistleblowers. The DOJ didn't contact the AP before secretly obtaining two months of journalists' phone records, nor did it contact Fox News before getting Rosen's records, a break with the way the government traditionally deals with media outlets.
But the DOJ is now raising further questions about how far the Obama administration will go in rooting out the sources of classified information.”…cont…


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